RAMESH THAKUR.  New Zealand’s Loss of Innocence (Project Syndicate, 17 March 2019)

Like the assassination of Olof Palme in Sweden in 1986, the 9/11 attacks in the US, and the murderous rampage of Anders Breivik in Norway in 2011, March 15 will mark the day New Zealand lost its innocence and entered the age of postmodern mass terror. Fortunately, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s response has so far been pitch perfect. Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. The crazed Brendan Tarrant did not operate in a vacuum. (See Postscript)

We now see the dreadful consequences in Christchurch of Islamophobia. There has been widespread hate speech against Muslims promoted not just by white extremist groups but also by politicians and the media.   Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Politics | 9 Comments

LINDA SIMON. NSW election candidates Stand Up for TAFE

NSW goes to the polls on 23 March and the outcome is not clear at this time. There are many programs being highlighted and funding promised by the major parties, with TAFE an area of concern. The TAFE Community Alliance asked candidates to ‘Stand Up for TAFE’ and were overwhelmed with the strength of the responses from many candidates and not surprised at the lack of interest from others.

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MUNGO MacCALLUM. Students’ strike for climate action – and good on them for it.

The conservatives have got themselves into a terrible lather about last week’s climate change protest.   Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate, Politics | 3 Comments

GARETH EVANS. Asian Australians: Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling (2019 Asialink Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop Lecture, Sydney, 13 March 2019)

The award of this year’s Weary Dunlop Asialink medal to one of our most distinguished Asian-Australians seems to me an opportune moment to revisit the question of whether we as a nation are making the most – in terms of both our external relations and our internal national development – of the vast store of talent that exists in the multiple Asian-Australian communities that now make up such a large proportion of our overall Australian community: the Chinese-Australians, Indian-Australians, Vietnamese-Australians, Malaysian and Indonesian and Cambodian and Filipino-Australians, Afghan and Sri Lankan-Australians, Korean-Australians and all the rest who have done so much to enrich the life of this nation, intellectually, culturally and socially, over the last few decades. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 2 Comments

ALISON BROINOWSKI Beware the Ides of March in Christchurch

 

It is better when a terrorist is not shot dead but arrested. So we eventually learn what is his – usually male – motivation, and governments and the courts are then able to respond rationally. But Brenton Tarrant made his motivation quite clear, documenting his crime in Christchurch with a 74-page manifesto, as well as filming his running online commentary. Few would care if police had shot him, taking to 50 the total who died on the Ides, Friday 15 March.

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GREG BAILEY. An oldie at the climate march.

After travelling for an hour from outside of Melbourne, I reached the Treasury Gardens at about 12.05pm to concerted cheering from thousands of young voices. On the train teenage boys and girls from various local high schools in the northeast suburbs of Melbourne were working on signs they had made from pieces of cardboard, and discussing with each other what they should write.  At least they were thinking more cogently about climate change and its causes than many of their elders ever have. All twenty-three students from my daughter’s year 10 class attended with their teacher’s blessing.  Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 1 Comment

RICHARD BROINOWSKI. Growth of Tribal Hatred

Hotel Mumbai, currently screening in Australia, tells the harrowing story of attacks by the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba across the Indian city of Mumbai in November 2008. Indoctrinated to believe that non-Muslims are not human, 10 young men armed with grenades and AK-47s go on an orgy of destruction. Urged on through their earpieces by a faceless fanatic in Pakistan who promises riches for their families and paradise for them, they slaughter 160 defenceless Indians and foreigners in 24 hours, including many guests and staff at the luxurious Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, before all but one of them are killed by late-arriving Indian special forces from New Delhi. Their ring-master is never caught. The plot resonates with the shocking slaughter in Christchurch on 15 March 2019.

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PETER SAINSBURY. Sunday environmental round up, 17 March 2019

The Reserve Bank of Australia issues its first statement on climate change – it’s highly likely to disrupt the productivity and stability and they now include it with the other factors they consider when managing the economy – while schools students across the world strike to draw attention to the failure of current leaders to take adequate action to combat climate change. In Central America, people and governments in Costa Rica and Cuba take climate action more seriously.

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LOUISA MENADUE. Striking For Our Future.

On the 15th of March, I was one of the thousands of students from Australia who participated in school strikes for climate. Students from 105 countries worldwide are striking for climate because climate action is imperative. So many seem to view climate change as something far away that will have little effect on their lives, and for those of you old enough, maybe it is. However, for those of us with our lives still ahead of us, the climate crisis will devastate the world we live in. We have twelve years to stop the climate from worsening, and that requires a drastic change in the way we treat mother earth. Our current policies are killing the earth, and there is no planet B.  Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 9 Comments

OLIVER FRANKEL AND SUSAN RYAN. Monthly digest on housing affordability and homelessness – Feb/Mar 2019

This is the second monthly digest of interesting articles, research reports, policy announcements and other material relevant to housing stress/affordability and homelessness – with hypertext links to the source.

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SATURDAY’s GOOD READING AND LISTENING FOR THE WEEKEND

A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts in other media Continue reading

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GEOFF RABY. Trump will create early tests for a new Labor Government (AFR 13.2.2019)

In a few months, Labor is likely to take charge of Australia’s foreign policy and security. It will be doing so with a global order vastly different that which existed last time it held power. It is important then to consider how prepared is Labor for the task.   Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 3 Comments

RICHARD KINGSFORD. Policy holes drain the life out of Murray-Darling rivers.

This press statement by Professor Richard Kingsford outlines what needs to be done to protect the Murray-Darling rivers and the communities that rely on them in the lead up to the NSW state election.   Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate, Politics | 1 Comment

IAN DUNLOP. The Elephant in the Election Room. The Immediate Existential Threat of Climate Change.(SMH 14.2.2019)

Human-induced climate change is happening faster than officially acknowledged. Extreme events intensify, particularly in Australia, Asia and the Pacific. Victoria and Tasmania are ablaze again. Queensland needs a decade to recover from recent floods. Much of SE Australia has become a frying pan, curtailing human activity. The economic and social cost is massive, as Reserve Bank Deputy Governor Guy Debelle warned us this week, but our leaders refuse absolutely to acknowledge climate change as the cause.   Continue reading

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ANDREW J BACEVICH. The US foreign policy establishment (The American Conservative).

The only way we’ll defeat the foreign policy establishment is if the Left and Right can be brought together. Continue reading

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JERRY ROBERTS. Labor’s targets in Western Australia.

Even without the extra hour’s time difference from daylight saving, West Australians often know the result of federal elections before they vote on Saturday evening.  This will most likely be the case again in May, despite Scott Morrison’s dramatic journey to Christmas Island.  Continue reading

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TERRY FEWTRELL. Canberra Catholics lay out church reform agenda.

Inclusive, transparent, accountable, non-clericalist and humble – characteristics not usually associated with the Catholic church, but ones the church must adopt. That is the view of a large group of Canberra Catholics in a submission to the church’s Plenary Council being organised in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis. Continue reading

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NOEL TURNBULL. A dangerous decline

It is symptomatic of much that is disturbing and dangerous about Australian political discourse that Australia’s continuing decline in international public sector corruption rankings is given so little attention.

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GREG BAILEY. The Coal Wars. Where next?

In writing on this subject I was initially going to focus on the manner in which a lobbying company funded by Glencore had undertaken a marketing campaign in support of coal and to plant doubts about the capacity of renewable energy to substitute for coal. If this might have represented the beginnings of a conflict between renewables and coal, it has now gone far beyond that, with a new war front opening up between the two wings of the coalition government.
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MARC HUDSON. Game over for the Nationals on climate change? Spruiking for miners instead?

The National Party’s battles over climate policy are becoming ever louder, ever more ludicrous. The consequences of thirty years of climate denial and spruiking for mining may finally tear the party apart.  Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate, political | 2 Comments

JOHN DWYER. Health Reform’s “Holy Grail”;Medicare must fund the “team Medicine” approach to Primary Care.

 

Surely my disgust at the Coalition’s decision to spend more than a billion dollars re-opening the Christmas Island detention centre to make sure that none of those nasty murderers, rapists and paedophiles ever get to real Australia for any medical care, is widely shared. There is so much real health that could be purchased with those dollars. Continue reading

Posted in Health, Politics | 4 Comments

TONY SMITH. The environment – top issue for New South Wales voters

Traditionally, New South Wales election campaigns are tightly controlled affairs. Perhaps because the major party planners think that most elections will be close, they concentrate on one or two key statewide issues and hope that local campaigning will see them through in marginal seats. Law and order ‘auctions’ dominated through the late 1990s and corruption has been the theme of several polls. In 2019 the issue which should determine the outcome is the environment. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate, Politics | 1 Comment

RAMESH THAKUR. India’s General Election: A Preview

This article previews India’s forthcoming general election on three dimensions. First, I describe India’s election machinery and logistics, something that Australia could learn a lot from if it were not for the embedded subconscious racism that rejects the very possibility of an advanced white democracy learning from a poor Asian developing country. Second, I outline the issues that are likely to dominate the campaign over the next two months. And finally, I look at the state of play at the moment with regard to the prospects of the two competing coalitions.

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DAVID SPRATT: Existential risk, Neoliberalism and UN Climate Policymaking Part 2

International climate policymaking has failed to avoid a path of catastrophic global warming. Two often-overlooked causes of this failure are how climate-science knowledge has been produced and utilised by the United Nation’s twin climate bodies and how those organisations function. Part 2 of 2.

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ERIC HODGENS. Pell Conviction a Wake-up Call.

Culture wars are simply factional standoffs given a zippy title. The Church has had them forever. George Pell is a warrior of the right. His conviction is a setback for the right – but only a setback. The war still goes on. Continue reading

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DAVID SPRATT: Existential risk, Neoliberalism and UN Climate Policymaking Part 1

International climate policymaking has failed to avoid a path of catastrophic global warming. Two often-overlooked causes of this failure are how climate-science knowledge has been produced and utilised by the United Nation’s twin climate bodies and how those organisations function. Part 1 of 2.

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Posted in Environment and climate | 4 Comments

JOHN WARHURST. Why I am not leaving the Catholic Church

Not only am I not leaving the Catholic church, but I am redoubling my efforts to join with others in making the case for much needed reforms. At heart I believe it is an institution worth working within to improve because it does way more good than harm in Australian society. For me the church is both a community and a formal institution. The twin crises of child sexual abuse and leadership failure by covering it up have certainly shaken my faith in the formal institution part. But while that has been happening my spiritual and social life within the broader Catholic community has remained strong.  Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 9 Comments

SPENCER ZIFCAK. The Federal Government Corrodes the Independence of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal

The Federal Government Corrodes the Independence of
the Administrative Appeals Tribunal

The Commonwealth Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) is a quasi-judicial body designed to promote the rule of law and good government by enabling citizens to call into question the decisions of public sector departments and agencies. The Tribunal reviews government decisions on the merits of questions of law and fact. Its jurisdiction is extensive including, among other things, jurisdiction with respect to migration and refugees, taxation, social security, the NDIS, veterans affairs and freedom of information. Given that the Tribunal may overrule decisions taken within government and substitute its own, the relationship between the two bodies is not always easy. It is critical, therefore, that the Tribunal should operate independently, free from improper or undue political influence. Its independence, however, is now under concerted political attack.

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Posted in Human Rights, Politics | 1 Comment

GENEVIEVE LLOYD. Strong Borders and Bad Butchers

The appraisal of current political rhetoric on asylum seeker and refugee policies can be a challenging exercise. Think, for example, of the ideal of ‘strong borders’, which has come to act as a benchmark for the recognition of contemporary realities — so obvious that it seems unthinkable to call it into question; and so politically potent that the mere mention of ‘softness on border protection’ is enough to suggest unfitness to govern. Yet, in this context, it is by no means clear from what exactly our ‘strong borders’ are supposed to offer protection. Nor is it clear why the slightest change in current ‘policy settings’ would amount to a weakening of their presumptive strength.

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Posted in refugees, Refugees, Immigration | 4 Comments